Providing Education To Slum-Dwelling Children, Samarpan Foundation New Delhi
Updated: Aug 4, 2019
Samarpan Foundation is a charitable not-for-profit organization that works as a community of volunteers, for various humanitarian, ecological, environmental and animal welfare causes.
Doing the greatest good for the greatest number
“When we think of poverty, the image that traditionally comes to mind is that of a child in a rural village. But today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shantytowns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive”… Anthony Lake (Director UNICEF).
Samarpan was established in 2006 and believes in doing what needs to be done to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. The foundation undertakes a variety of diverse projects as in housing, education, healthcare, and nutrition both locally within India and across the globe. Currently the foundation is running projects in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Goa, Sunderbans, Kashmir, Nepal and Africa.
Samarpan works on providing education to the children living in slums and disadvantaged urban poverty conditions. It is pertinent to note that half of Delhi lives in ramshackle slums and shabby unauthorized colonies.This note features such work undertaken by Samarpan in and around Delhi.
Poverty in Urban Cities
Large cities act as magnets and attract a large number of immigrants looking for better employment opportunities and a modern way of life. The day is fast approaching when the majority of the world’s children will grow up in cities and towns. By 2030 more than 50 percent of India’s population is expected to live in urban areas.
The natural sequel of this unchecked and unplanned growth of urban areas results in the spread of slums and squatter settlements. Slums invariably have extreme unhygienic conditions, congestion with inadequate infrastructure and lack in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities. Urban data reveals a wide disparity in children’s rate of survival, nutritional standards and education due to unequal access to services as compared to benefits enjoyed by its affluent peers.
Samarpan School Project
Education transforms lives and it is at the heart of Samarpan’s philosophy. The foundation works towards providing equitable and quality learning opportunities by instilling values, hope and confidence amongst marginalized children to learn to dream and fulfill their dreams.
Samarpan runs free schools and tuition centers in various parts of the country. Currently they have eight pre-schools, and primary schools in Delhi, where over 1,800 children are being educated. The school provides free primary education, tuition, nutritious meals, textbooks, stationery, uniforms, schoolbags, shoes, socks, sweaters and inner thermals every year to every student. Also regular parent teacher meets are arranged. It also provides regular medical camps and clinics for the communities.
Samarpan School and Tuition Centre, Kishangarh, Delhi
Kishangarh School, was founded in 2007, and has a highly successful business model. They are able to bring children off the street into classrooms, prevent them from dropping out and also changed the mind set of parents who were against schooling.
The school is located in the midst of an urban slum in Kishangarh village, inhabited by migrant workers: These include rag pickers sweepers and construction workers who never got the opportunity to go to school.
Operating on a rented property of about 800 square yards it houses the classrooms, computer centre, kitchen, toilets and a central courtyard.
The Kishangarh School provides the following:
Pre Primary School (Nursery to Kindergarten): Caters to children from ages 3 to 4. A learning environment and the discipline of a classroom is cultivated.
A Primary School this serves as a bridge school for late starters and covers education from Classes 1 through 5 (children aged 5 to 10 years). There are 275 children in this program. It runs during the first half of the day and follows the CBSE syllabus. The focus is to discipline children for regular school academics to improve their reading and writing skills.
The Remedial (Tuitions) Program is meant for the Primary School students who are admitted to government school. This program caters to 450 students and runs in 3 shifts during the afternoon. Those children who are unable to keep up with the studies are provided with tuitions/extra classes by volunteers and teachers. The school under this tuition program covers the Upper Primary Education (Class 6 to 8), the Secondary Education (Class 9 to 10), the Senior Secondary (Class 11 to 12) and the university level.
Crèche: Often young girls are unable to attend school because they are delegated the task of caring for their younger siblings while the parents go out to work. In order to address this issue, Samarpan started a crèche which hosts children from infancy to 3 years. It caters to the children of siblings of students, teachers working at school and mothers who are employed at the women’s empowerment centre and skill development centre.
Technology Education: The school has 20 computers and a dedicated computer lab. All children are provided orientation education on computer once a day.
Nutritious Meals: Samarpan believes that education is inseparable from nutrition. A nutritious diet is provided which nourishes the body and the mind. The diet includes cereal, milk, dals, vegetables, eggs, bananas and seasonal fruits, rice and salads. Children are taught to take small helpings as for as many times as they desire so that no wastage of food happens.
Value Education: a) Explaining personal hygiene, providing soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo b) De-licing, deworming camps c) sensitizing parents on gender equality to change the mindset of the community on ‘boy preference’ and discouraging early girl child marriages.
Some of the interesting additional features of this school are:
The school remains open throughout the year holding camps during the vacations to ensure uninterrupted development
The school has a regular Sports Day where every child participates in team games
Taekwondo classes are also held twice a week
Vocational and hobby classes are conducted on Saturday afternoons for — tailoring, hand embroidery, mehndi, dance and music.
The school celebrates all major festivals with a variety performance where all the children participate. This is followed by a special meal and fun dancing.
Currently, there are 17 teachers and 10 members of staff and volunteers, all of whom have immensely contributed in shaping the school and the children with their dedication and love.
Shastri Park Centre: Under the Bridge
Samarpan started education assistance in 2015 to this community where approximately 8,000 people reside. Families of rickshaw pullers, farmers and daily wage laborers live here close to the Yamuna River in makeshift homes with no sanitation and little availability of drinking water.
Samarpan runs a centre in an open area under a bridge. This is the only source of education to the children here. There are no schools close by. The Tuition Centre provides much needed support to enable students to cope with their mainstream school education. With 10 Teachers and a team of 4 supporting staff members the school caters to 320 students and serves by guiding students from basic learning methods to cope up with the formal education system.
On the banks of the Yamuna River, overlooking the city, Samarpan operates a school in an elephant slum. Here elephants and families of elephant keepers (mahouts) and garden laborers reside in sub-standard living conditions with no sanitation or access to electricity.
Basic survival is the order of the day in this slum and education and healthcare are luxuries the residents can ill afford. The open classrooms are built of bamboo and tarpaulins to give shelter from the sun and the rain. Children here are the first in their families to receive education.
With 5 Teachers and 4 supporting staff members the school Caters to 130 students and provides primary education here. Samarpan runs a morning primary school, tuition centre, adult education centre and a crèche here.
Slum Tuition Centers in different parts of Delhi
The tuition centre strives to provide assistance to enable students cope in mainstream schools, keeping in mind the struggle for their livelihood.
The visible impact of these initiatives have been improvements in nutrition and health, school attendance, importance of education amongst parents, reduced gender bias and improvements in hygiene.
A snapshot of such centers can be seen below:
Location: Kotla, Premnagar, Mubarakpur - Started in the Year 2009
Profile: The slum is next to an underpass in South Delhi with constant noisy traffic and pollution, no water supply and very little living space. Gadhia Lohars, an ancient Rajasthan tribe, have been living in Kotla slum for over 40 years.
No of Children: 90
No of Staff: Teachers 2, Support 3
Location: Yamuna Pushta - Started in the Year 2014
Profile: Marginal farmers and farm helpers share the area with rickshaw pullers, shop helpers and laborers from a local powerhouse. They are amongst the poorest of the poor living in Delhi.
No of Children: 110
No of Staff: Teachers 4, Support 5
Location: Motiya Khan - Started in the Year 2014
Profile: Migrant families hailing mostly from Maharashtra and Kerala are long-term residents at the shelter Most parents are unemployed and there is extreme poverty, widespread alcoholism, drug abuse and a lack of personal cleanliness.
No of Children: 140
No of Staff: Teachers 4, Support 3
Location: Akshardham - Started in the Year 2016
Profile: The school is located in interiors of farm land ahead of Hathi Basti near the Akshardham area. The location is reachable only through mud roads which turn very sloppy in rain, very hot in summers and extremely cold in winters.
No of Children: 120
No of Staff: Teachers 3, Support 1
Location: Aya Nagar - Started in the Year 2017
Profile: The school is located in interiors of farm land ahead of Hathi Basti near the AkshardAya Nagar is considered as an unauthorized colony in south Delhi. The original Aya Nagar settlement was a village populated largely by the indigenous Gujjar community. Over the last three decades the village has grown to become home for migrants from all parts of the country. The population is mostly from a low-income background.
No of Children: 50
No of Staff: Teachers 1
Our visit to Samarpan centers in Kishangarh and Shastri Park were both fascinating and inspirational.
The Kishangarh School is a busy school in the midst of a slum which makes best use of facilities available to them. It has about 8 rooms, and a computer centre. The facilities are used to the fullest in the morning for primary school and in the afternoon for tuition support.
Children at all the centers are served with freshly prepared meals. Serving nutritious meals is Samarpan’s core philosophy and this goes a long way in the physical and mental development of these children.
From a humble beginning where volunteers had to persuade parents to send their children to school to today, where they are compelled to refuse admissions due to the lack of space and classrooms. Samarpan has succeeded in developing an education model to address the plight of urban poor children.
Key takeaways of this success story have been:
Serving nutritious meals attracts children to school and also significantly improves learning capabilities and absenteeism due to a decline in illnesses.
Early enrollment of a child into Primary School helps prepare them for the mainstream education system by laying a stronger foundation.
It is very important to provide continued support to the children graduating to mainstream schools. Leaving them on their own renders the work done in the Primary School futile as they don’t manage to get any guidance or assistance from any other source.
Working to change the mindset of the parents regarding the importance of higher education and skill development is very important.
Building a platform for dedicated volunteers to come and work goes a long way in developing the school and the children.
The tuition Centre at Kishangarh School have had some great success stories. A Class XII student came 2nd in her class and the class got 100% pass result in the CBSE Board examinations. Also, 36 out of the 40 students passed the 10th standard board exams during June 2018.
To date, every child has joined graduate courses at the University level and few have taken up additional short-term professional and technical courses such as plumbing, electrician, accounting, beautician, and tailoring.
Samarpan foundation has received several awards and merits for its services including:
The Food Banking Network of India: Certificate of Appreciation for commitment towards the fight against hunger and malnutrition
The Mandela Award for Art and Humanitarian Achievement to Chairperson Patrick San francesco: From the Ruebens Museum of Art in 2011, for his inspiring leadership in humanitarianism
Recognized by the Council of Scientific Institute for Research (Structural Engineering Research Centre) for eco-invention of earthquake resistant building up to 9.8 on the Richter scale
Validated by Charities Aid Foundation as complying with their due diligence requirements
The school’s project runs on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and individual funding to meet the operating cost of Rs 1.50 Crores p.a. The foundation is in constant search of volunteers to work on their mission and corporate as well as individual donors can bring meaningful changes to the lives of these less privileged children. Certainly this is a cause worthy of everyone’s support.